Newly-released data reveals that roadway fatalities are up in 2016 over those occurring during the same period last year. This is an especially troubling fact, considering that 2015 was the first in 50 years where the number of traffic fatalities had increased over the previous year’s numbers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 35,092 individuals lost their lives in traffic accidents in 2015. This was a 7.2% increase over the number of those who died on the road in 2014. The first six months of 2016 proved even deadlier than the first six of 2015, with an increase of 10.4% over fatality rates from the first half of 2015.
When roadway fatalities are seen to increase, the first explanation experts tend to point to is the strength of the economy. Strengthening economies bring greater employment numbers, more time for road trip vacations, and more money to fund teen drivers getting their own cars. These factors all result in more vehicle miles traveled nationwide. However, the increase in vehicle miles traveled only explains about half of the increase in traffic fatalities and accidents in 2015, as vehicle miles traveled went up by around 3%, while fatality rates went up by around 7%. Likewise, total vehicle miles traveled in the first half of 2016 was estimated at 1.58 trillion, marking a new record in miles traveled and a 3.3% increase over the first half of 2015. This increase alone still does not explain the 10% hike in fatalities this year.
According to the NHTSA, approximately 94% of all accidents are the result of human error. One reason offered for the increase in fatalities is that, with greater expendable income comes an increase in riskier types of driving. The director of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), suggested that the reason for more roadway fatalities “is we’ve had an uptick in the economy, and one of the things we know is that people drive more miles, and the kind of driving people do changes. You go to more parties and there is more risky types of driving. Young people drive more and we know they’re more at risk.”
NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind said of the increase in traffic deaths, “[w]e have an immediate crisis on our hands, and we also have a long-term challenge.” Rosekind has pointed out that a troubling share of fatal accidents result from three preventable factors: drunken driving, distracted driving, and failure to wear a seat belt. Driving while drunk or distracted is not only a threat to the drivers themselves, but is an even greater threat to others on the road and could result in massive personal liability for the reckless driver.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a reckless, drunk, or distracted driver in Mississippi, seek the money damages to which you may be entitled for lost wages, medical costs, or pain and suffering by contacting the dedicated and determined Gulfport personal injury lawyer Corban Gunn for a free consultation, at 228.284.6805.